The Mercantour National Park

Mercantour National Park (Parc national du Mercantour) is one of the ten national parks of France. Since it was created in 1979, the Mercantour Park has proven popular, with 800,000 visitors every year enjoying the 600 km of marked footpaths and visiting its villages.

At the border with the Italian Piedmont, the Mercantour massif is the lowest southern promontory of the Alps, before its chain dips sharply into the Mediterranean Sea. It is the particular situation between the sea and the mountain that gives this park a unique and original characters.

With large ungulates, small mammals, birds, reptiles and insects, the Mercantour fauna is very diverse. It is made up of several hundreds of species, some of which date back to the last glacial age. In addition to the holm oak, the Mediterranean olive tree, rhododendrons, firs, spruces, swiss pines and above all larches, the Mercantour is also endowed with more than 2,000 species of flowering plants (more than 50% of the species found in France), 220 of which are very rare (edelweiss and martagon lily are the best known but there is also saxifrage with multiple flowers, houseleek, moss campion and gentian offering a multi-coloured palette in the spring) and 400 cannot be found anywhere else in the world.

The Mercantour Maritime territory houses, since 2007, the first Europe-wide project for the establishment of a biodiversity inventory (All Taxa Biodiversity Inventory), second only to that achieve in the United States in the Smoky Mountains Park.

Mercantour National Park

Mercantour National Park Website

Regarding the forests:

Hardwoods dominate the collinean level (600-1100 m), thicket of Quercus pubescens on the south-facing slope (up to 1300 m), Pinus sylvestris and Quercus ilex on the rocky bars exposed to sunlight. Resinous trees dominate the mountain (1100-1700 m), Pinus sylvestris on the south-facing slope, firs and shade plants are widely distributed on the north-facing side. Larix decidua is the dominant tree species of subalpine level (1700-2000 m) and conifers. The larch leaves, allow to the sunlight to go through, ten many plants and flowers bloom in the undergrowth. In the lower part of the level, larch is commonly accompanied by spruce, dominant on the north-facing side. Beyond 2200-2300 m : grasslands, talus, moor, scree, rocks.